Housing options and advice are provided by local authorities to address homelessness, but often not until a family or individual has already become homeless.  The charity Shelter advocates for much earlier intervention, identifying those who are vulnerable to the threat of homelessness and then providing a range of preventative measures – from targeted advice and advocacy through to tenancy sustainment schemes and interventions to ensure that homes are not lost through rent arrears. 5

To prevent future episodes of homelessness, there is a strong case for providing support to children and young people to remain at home with their families or in wider family networks, when it is safe to do so. 6 Early action by agencies to mediate between young people and their families is key to achieving this. There is also a major preventative role for education through schools and other youth provision (in particular peer education and mentoring schemes), in highlighting the reality of homelessness and leaving home at a young age.

A recent review found there to be limited robust evidence on effective interventions specifically designed to meet the health and wellbeing needs of people at risk of homelessness. 7 Most of the interventions that were identified focused on holistic in-tenancy support, hospital-discharge services and community outreach to vulnerable high-risk groups (such as former rough sleepers, young people and people with complex needs).  Action on primary prevention (i.e. interventions that minimise the risk of becoming homeless in the first place) is either absent or poorly documented in the literature.

In 2010, the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness published plans to end rough sleeping. Supported by the £20m Homelessness Transition Fund, it drove forward the national roll-out of No Second Night Out, the approach initiated in London to ensure that anyone sleeping rough received help quickly. Administered by Homeless Link, the Homelessness Transition Fund has supported 175 projects across England and had supported 12,235 people by early 2015. 8 The working group has also focused on youth homelessness, assisted hospital discharge and improved partnership working through technology (such as the StreetLink service).B

Notes

  1. http://www.streetlink.org.uk/
  2. http://www.streetlink.org.uk/

References

  1. Shelter, “Homelessness: Early identification and prevention,” 2007.
  2. Homeless Link, “No Excuses: Preventing Homelessness for the Next Generation,” 2013.
  3. Homeless Link, “Preventing homelessness to improve health and wellbeing,” July 2015.
  4. Department for Communities and Local Government, “Addressing complex needs: Improving services for vulnerable homeless people,” March 2015.
  5. Shelter, “Homelessness: Early identification and prevention,” 2007.
  6. Homeless Link, “No Excuses: Preventing Homelessness for the Next Generation,” 2013.
  7. Homeless Link, “Preventing homelessness to improve health and wellbeing,” July 2015.
  8. Department for Communities and Local Government, “Addressing complex needs: Improving services for vulnerable homeless people,” March 2015.